Fear is a powerful motivator. It is an emotion deeply embedded in our genetic makeup without which we as a species would cease to be. Survival drives us from the moment of birth until our last breath. Now imagine if you could survive beyond the grave…
~Faith means not having (or wanting) to know the truth~
Jesus began his ministry preaching the gospel (the original gospel) saying, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15). This was the original gospel. It was also a lie. The time had not come. The kingdom of God had not come near, but Jesus was convinced it had. This is fundamentally the deepest flaw in historic Christianity. It was all predicated on the belief God was about to rain judgment upon the wicked earth. Only those who conformed to his holy law would be exempt from his wrath including unrighteous Jews. This was John the Baptists and Jesus’ ministry.
Imagine you are an everyday Jew. You go to synagogue, attend the festivals and try to keep the requirements of the Mosaic legal code. You’re not perfect but you make the effort. Then a man (John) starts preaching about the imminent arrival of God’s glorious kingdom when Israel will be restore. Fantastic!? It depends. Are you going to be granted admission or fall under the mighty hand of God? Have you conformed to the Law? If so, enough to merit mercy?
John and Jesus created doubt in the minds of their hearers. Then when this became fear they offered a remedy. If you repent and are baptized, you can be assured of entrance into the kingdom; otherwise, you will be judged alongside the sinful uncircumcised (Gentiles). So immediate was the threat of the coming kingdom, John was offering his services “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Since the Jewish historian makes mention of “John as having been a baptist.” It seems he attracted many. Jesus undertook a similar ministry.
The message of the coming kingdom and later Jesus imminent return permeate the New Testament writings. Attending these events is of course judgment in the here and now not the afterlife. The context of writings centers around the idea of the Last Days so you better be prepared!
Christianity has always been primarily about escaping judgment and going to heaven. Loving and obeying God are secondary. If it were a prerequisite as it was in Jesus’ day, the world would be a far better place. But because many Christians especially evangelicals believe they already have their ticket to heaven stamped, they have no incentive to be righteous while on earth. This has spawned an insipid complacency among American evangelicals who have customized their faith to suit their own tastes. Comfort and convenience not sacrifice and commitment dominate the Christian landscape.
If being an evangelical was like belonging to a political party (though sadly in many cases it is), we could comprehend it. It is simply a mental choice. However, the New Testament teaches being a true Christian is a much, much higher calling. A calling that reaches all the way to heaven. Christians are said to be regenerated which is a fancy theological word for given a new life. That life is the crucifying of their old sin nature and the implantation of a “new spiritual nature.” This new nature has been renewed after Jesus imbuing them with resurrection power to live victorious lives over the power of sin. Christians are to model lives reflecting that of Jesus himself. How are they doing?
Evangelicals are no different from non evangelicals which, if you believe the Bible, is the greatest insult to Jesus imaginable. By living worldly, carnal lives where materialism and indulgence of fleshly desires are of higher priority than sacrifice and servanthood, Jesus work on the cross is pointless.